Grid modernization

By Stephanie Holinka

Photography By Randy Montoya

Friday, February 05, 2016

Sandia is leading the Security and Resilience area of DOE’s Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) and bringing its strong research capability in grid modernization to help the nation modernize its power grid.

The consortium includes scientists and engineers from across 14 DOE national labs and dozens of industry, academic, and state and local government partners, aligned into six technical areas. These teams come together to imagine the grid of the future and to close high-priority technology and security gaps facing the US power grid as it deals with growth, disruptive operating changes, and future threats. GMLC research and development will receive up to $220 million in funding over the next three years through DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The task is not simple. The grid must deliver reliable, affordable, and clean electricity to consumers where they want it, when they want it, and how they want it. And it must be secure against many different types of physical and cyber intrusion threats, as well as natural disasters and severe storms and hurricanes.

Juan Torres, deputy director for Sandia’s Renewable Systems and Energy Infrastructure Program, leads the GMLC’s Grid Security and Resilience team, a 12-lab team tasked with developing a multiyear program plan for research necessary to keep the increasingly interconnected electric power grid secure and resilient.

“Sandia has decades of experience in physical and cybersecurity, and in providing resilience support for the power grid and some of the most critical infrastructures in the nation, such as nuclear power plants, oil and gas installations, and water and transportation systems,” Juan says. “Sandia’s capabilities, coupled with assets at our partner labs, bring tremendous resources for the nation.”

Charles Hanley, senior manager of Grid Modernization and Military Energy Programs Dept. 6110, is leading Sandia’s participation in the GMLC.

“Sandia engineers and scientists are excited to be applying decades of technology leadership in national security areas to help create a modern electric grid. The GMLC is an excellent avenue to increase our technical collaborations and ensure a broad national impact for this critical work,” Charles says.

Sandia engineers will lead several projects, including:

  • The GMLC Testing Network, which will create a comprehensive testing infrastructure and a repository of models and simulation tools to help accelerate grid modernization.
  • The Grid Analysis and Design for Energy and Infrastructure Resiliency for New Orleans project is intended to assist coastal cities that experience extended power outages exacerbating interruption of energy intensive infrastructures vital to recovery during hurricanes and storms.
  • A project in Vermont to help utilities meet that state’s ambitious goal of obtaining 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.

Sandia also will support projects in New Mexico, Kentucky, Alaska, and Hawaii, and will be part of broad teams on numerous other technology development projects under the GMLC program.

Ultimately, the consortium will help develop a unified grid modernization strategy for DOE, in partnership with utilities and other grid stakeholders, and will support implementing that strategy using the strong technical and institutional knowledge and capabilities present across the national laboratory complex.